If you tuned in to Super Bowl XLV on Sunday, you were inundated with images of will.i.am, and not just during the Half Time Show. Featured in the above commercial, the Black Eyed Peas frontman wound up digitized and pitching a new service called Chatter. If you watched both commercials and still have no idea what Chatter is, you're not alone. All we got out of it at first was that Chatter was a new social network that lets the B.E.P. keep in contact with each other. But what can you really do with it?
Private Social Network
Chatter is pitched by its parent company, SalesForce, as a "free, private, and secure social network just for your business". Using the same tools and features as Facebook and Twitter, Chatter let's you stay in contact with everyone you work with. Only people that have an e-mail with your company can join the network. It's sort of like how Facebook used to be, but now instead of connecting with all the people at your school, it's for all the people at your job. So how is will.i.am. able to use it with B.E.P.? Well, "company" is a loose term. If you and your friends run a "t-shirt company" out of your apartment, all you have to do is log a domain name, get some e-mail addresses and you're good to go. SalesForce makes its bread providing secure cloud computing services for companies and corporations, so you can rest assured that Chatter will be super-secure. Meaning, you can feel safe sending sketches or rough drafts to co-workers without fear of it leaking to the public.
Cloud Collaboration Tool
Imagine a Facebook Group that only you, your designers, and your business people can access for a new shirt your company wants to release. Within that group, you guys share images and sketches, manufacturing proposals, and marketing ideas. Using your personal network, members of your work team can post documents they're working on for the entire team to look at and edit. If your company handles multiple accounts or is working on multiple projects, you can set up a separate feed or group for that account or project where its progressions is tracked. You can also upload large files for people on your team to download.
Integrates Other Social Networks
And that's the quick jist of it. Will Chatter effect your life? More than likely, no. Chatter's value is that you can stay connected to everyone you need to collaborate with professionally, without the rest of the world being let in on the process. If you're not doing business, stick with Facebook and Twitter.
You can't launch a new social network, public or private, without letting in the current perennials. Chatter features a Twitter and Facebook widget that can draw in feeds from both networks. You can limit the stream to only include messages or updates that pertain to your company or your project. And, like all other social networks, you can use Chatter seamlessly while on the go via your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone.